Published On: Fri, Jul 5th, 2013

The Five Pillars of Health

guyonthebeachThe Five Pillars of Health

-by Fred Fuld III

When most people hear the word “health“, they think of physical health, the diet and exercise type of health. But this is just one part of what I call the Five Pillars of Health. These five pillars are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial.

Dictionaries describe pillar as “a firm upright support for a superstructure.” You are the superstructure and the various types of health are your firm upright supports. Having all these pillars in a positive state can lead to happiness.

The interesting feature about these pillars is that they operate synergistically. If you are healthy in one health area, it can improve your health in other areas. But the opposite can also take place. In other words, if you are unhealthy with one type of health, it will adversely affect your other areas of health, and of course affect your overall health even more.

Let’s start with physical health. Impaired physical health can affect your mental processes, your emotions, and can even cause you to make wrong financial decisions. Everyone has had the experience of having the flu or a bad head cold, and not thinking clearly from a mental standpoint. And when your thinking is fuzzy, you can make financial mistakes. Numerous studies have been shown that your emotions are affected by your physical health (and vice versa). Everyone knows what is involved with being physically healthy, eating the right food, exercising, and taking nutritional supplements.

Mental health is just as important. Exercising your brain is imperative. This can be anything from doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, playing chess or bridge, to reading and writing. Even interacting with other people can help your brain and mental processes. If you just sit in front of your TV set all evening, your brain will stagnate and your mental processes with atrophy. And when that happens, it will affect your emotional health and your financial health. Here is an exercise to get hour brain going. If you are a liberal, call up a conservative friend, or if you are conservative, call up a liberal friend. Then bring up a controversial topic and debate it. But keep the conversation open and positive and don’t let it stress you out, otherwise it will affect your emotional health.

Speaking of emotional health, if you are emotionally stressed out, it will affect your mental decisions and your financial decisions.

Depression is probably the most disabling of all emotional conditions. Studies have shown that depressioncan exacerbate the effects of physical illness, which is why having positive emotions is so important. Also, the reverse is true. Research has demonstrated that positive emotions can lead to better physical health.

How to improve your emotions? Make sure the friend you are debating with, described previously, is a positive person. Make sure all your friends are positive people. Turn off the news and don’t listen to news on the radio. Don’t read the editorial page of the newspaper (you can’t debate a newspaper), unless you think sending a letter to the editor will make you happy.

Spiritual health is difficult to describe but is nevertheless important. This basically relates to your inner balance and your inner health. There is only so much that can be said about it because spiritual health is so personal.

Finally, we get to the fifth pillar, financial health. Do you need to be rich to be happy? No. Do you need to be rich to be physically healthy? No. However, finances can definitely have an effect on your physical health, your happiness, and your mental and emotional health, for that matter.

So how does your personal financial situation affect your overall health?

Take a look at your job. Are you working long hours? Are you losing sleep worrying about work? If so, your physical and emotional health will be affected.

Now look at your investments. Is the volatility of the stock market stressing you out?

Look at your spending patterns. Are you spending money like a drunken sailor or are you so concerned about sales and coupons that it is driving you nuts? If any of these sound familiar, you need to take a step back and look at what changes you can make.

What particular stressful aspect about your financial life can you change? Is there something you can do about your job (or your business if you are self-employed), to reduce your stress level? How can you adjust your investment portfolio so you don’t worry all the time? Are you even making the right investment decisions? What can you do about your spending pattern so you don’t feel guilty about either squandering your money or, at the other end of the spectrum, missing out on too many deals?

Just thinking about these questions is the first step. But one thing to keep in mind is that if all your other pillars of health are in good shape, then that factor can significantly improve your financial health.

Better mental health will improve your work, investing, and spending decisions, and better emotional health will help keep you from making the wrong financial decisions.

Remember, the five pillars of health work together. One unhealthy pillar can adversely affect some or even all of the others. Keep your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and financial pillars in good health and it should lead to contentment, joy, and happiness.


about the author…

Fred Fuld IIIBy Fred Fuld III, publisher of” and founder of” He is the author of several investment books, including Buying Dividends Revised and Expanded, and worked for over 20 years in the financial services industry as a stockbroker, investment advisor, vice president of a San Francisco money management firm, wholesaler for the first environmentally conscious mutual fund, market maker on the Pacific Stock Exchange, and adjunct professor for a California university. He has written articles for the Bond and Share Society Journal, Friends of Financial History Magazine, and many other investment publications. He has also appeared on CNBC, GloboTV, and Fox Business News. 



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